VICE ADMIRAL GORDON CAMPBELL'S VICTORIA CROSS MINIATURE MEDAL SET AND ITS UNIQUE COMPOSITION.
26 October 2018


( select to enlarge )
Miniature medal set of Vice Admiral Gordon Campbell,
Royal Navy ( HMS 'Q5' ( Mystery Ship ))

  • Victoria Cross
  • Distinguished Service Order ( DSO ) & 2 Bars
  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
    • 6 clasps:
    • "Home Seas 1914" - "Home Seas 1915"
    • "Home Seas 1916" - "Home Seas 1917"
    • "Home Seas 1918" - ""Q" Ships"
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 )
  • Knight, Legion of Honour ( France )
  • Croix de Guerre ( France )


The British War Medal was introduced in 1919 for the coverage of the First World War ( 1914-20 ). Orignally the idea was to award clasps to commemorate participation in different battles. Seventy nine were suggested by the Army and sixty eight by the Royal Navy, but as about 6,500,000 British War Medals were issued the idea of clasps had to be dropped on account of the huge expense.

However, the clasps for the Royal Navy were actually authorized but not issued, which explains why miniature medal sets to Royal Navy personnel are sometimes seen with clasps, as in the case with Vice Admiral Gordon Campbell VC, DSO & 2 Bars.

( The original full medal set was sold at auction by Morton and Eden on the 23rd November 2017 and realised a sale hammer price of £700,000 ).

For the award of the Victoria Cross ( a deliberate reduced citation owing to security )

[ London Gazette, 21 April 1917 ], South West Ireland, 17 February 1917, Commander Gordon Campbell, DSO, Royal Navy ( HMS 'Q5' ( Mystery Ship ))

In recognition of his conspicuous gallantry, consummate coolness, and skill in command of one of HM ships in action

Gordon Campbell was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 7th March 1917.


For the award of the Victoria Cross ( full citation )

[ London Gazette, 20 November 1918 ], South West Ireland, 17 February 1917, Commander Gordon Campbell, DSO, Royal Navy ( HMS 'Q5' ( Mystery Ship ))

On the 17th February 1917, HMS 'Q5' under the command of Commander Campbell DSO RN, was struck by a torpedo abreast of No 3 hold. Action stations were sounded and the 'panic party' abandoned ship. The engineer officer reported that the engine room was flooding, and was ordered to remain at his post as long as possible, which he and his staff, several of whom were severely wounded, most gallantly did.

The submarine, U-83, was observed on the starboard quarter 200 yards distant, watching the proceedings through his periscope. He ran past the ship on the starboard side so closely that the whole hull was visible below the surface, finally emerging about 300 yards on the port bow. The enemy came down the port side of the ship, and fire was withheld until all guns could bear at point blank range.

The first shot beheaded the captain of the submarine as he was climbing out of the conning tower, and the submarine finally sank with conning tower open and crew pouring out. One officer and one man were rescued on the surface and taken prisoner, after which the boats were recalled and all hands proceeded to do their utmost to keep the ship afloat. A wireless signal for assistance had been sent out when ( but not until ) the fate of the submarine was assured, and a destroyer and sloop arrived a couple of hours later and took 'Q5' in tow. She was finally beached in safety the following evening.

The action may be regarded as the supreme test of naval discipline. The chief engineer and engine-room watch remained at their posts to keep the dynamo working until driven out by the water, then remaining concealed on top of the cylinders. The gun crews had to remain concealed in their gun houses for nearly half an hour, while the ship slowly sank lower in the water..

( The award of the Victoria Cross to Commander Gordon Campbell DSO RN. was announced in London Gazette No 30029, dated the 21st April 1917 )


Created a Companion to the Distinguished Service Order ( DSO )

[ London Gazette, 31 May 1916 ], South West Ireland, 22 March 1916, Lieutenant Commander Gordon Campbell, Royal Navy ( HMS 'Farnborough' ( Mystery Ship ))

For services in command of British submarines operating in the Baltic Sea ( For the sinking of the German submarine U-68 )


Awarded a Bar to the Distinguished Service Order ( DSO )

[ London Gazette, 20 July 1917 ], South West Ireland, 7 June 1917, Commander Gordon Campbell VC DSO, Royal Navy ( HMS 'Pargust' ( Mystery Ship ))

For Services in 'Action with enemy submarines' ( For the sinking of the German submarine UC-29 )


Awarded a Second Bar to the Distinguished Service Order ( DSO )

[ London Gazette, 2 November 1917 ], Bay of Biscay, 8 August 1917, Commander Gordon Campbell VC DSO, Royal Navy ( HMS 'Dunraven' ( Mystery Ship ))

For Services in 'Action with enemy submarines' ( For the attempted sinking of the German submarine UC-71 )


Gordon Campbell died on the 3rd July 1953 and was buried in All Saints Churchyard, Crondall, Hampshire.

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Iain Stewart, 26 October 2018